Must Have Home Gym Ideas On A Budget To Reach Your Fitness Goals

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So what does it mean, ‘home gym ideas on a budget’?

Well, it means getting what you need to train how you want to. Without spending thousands of dollars. I myself have a pretty strong background in budget home gyms.

My first home gym was in a shed in the backyard of my family home. We had some plastic York dumbbells and a second-hand multi-gym my dad picked up from the local paper. Since then, I have had many, budget home gym setups. From a simple bench and some cheap cast-iron dumbbells to what I have today which is a small CrossFit type setup.

Needless to say, I have shopped around to find second-hand weight plates and bars. Searched the internet high and low for the best deals on all sorts of equipment. I’ve even made some of my own.

So this guide is for anyone looking to get started with a home gym setup on a budget. Or, improve what you already have. In this guide, you will not find how to build a fully functioning commercial gym equivalent. With three different types of cardio machines and a full-weight rack. This is not possible. Here I have reviewed my own gym-building experience and others in the home gym community to give you the best ideas for a small budget. What is the budget? We are going for $500.00. Enough to get you going and justify the cost vs your yearly commercial gym membership.

Super simple home gym setup.

Creating a Budget-Friendly Home Gym

Creating a home gym can be an intimidating task. But, with the right planning and preparation, it’s possible to create a space that is both functional and cost-effective. Below you’ll find the essential bits of kit and things to think about when planning your budget.

Choosing the right space

The first step in creating your home gym is choosing the right space. You’ll need to think about the following:

  • Floor space: How much room have you got. The larger the better because this will allow you to have more equipment choices, such as a power rack and barbells.
  • Ventilation: It’s likely to get hot and sweaty in there. You’ll want to find a space with windows or a door that can open. Garages are good for obvious reasons.
  • Lighting: You’d like to workout whenever you want to get the most out of your gym. This means somewhere with lighting installed. Gardens can be tricky in winter when the days are shorter.
  • Heating: A winter problem for the most part. A space that is well insulated is optimal as this will save on heating cost.
  • Noise Levels: A big one for home gyms. Garages are a great choice to keep the noise pollution down. If you only have a space in the house, so be it. But, you’ll need to bear in mind that thumping weights on the floor and cursing your way through the last few reps might annoy your family!

With all that in mind. I recommend a garage or barn if you have one. Even a shed can work if you plan your space well enough (mind you, it can get very hot in summer). Failing that, a spare room will do.

Once you have chosen the right space for your home gym, it’s time to start shopping, yay.

Start with the basics

When it comes to setting up a home gym, the basics are essential. You don’t need to break the bank to get started; there are plenty of affordable options available. Dumbbells, weight benches, power racks, barbells, weight plates, resistance bands and, yoga mats are all great items to start with.

Now usually, people will tell you to shop from Amazon to get low-cost workout equipment. But, there is another option, you can buy from the manufacturer via Aliexpress. 90% of the time your Amazon products will come from here via a reseller anyway. You’re welcome.

Dumbbells

A pair, or even one dumbbell, can make all the difference in your home gym workouts.

Dumbbells come in various forms, from fixed weight options to adjustable. On a budget, if you shop new, you can grab a 60lb set of manually adjustable ones for around $62+. Second-hand I found some great offers on Facebook Marketplace from $1 per lb. It really depends on how much versatility you want in your dumbbells.

New price: from $1 per lb+

Second-Hand price: from $1 per lb+

Power Rack

Power racks are great for squats and other compound lifts. Ideally, you want something that’ll take some weight. If you go new you can get a half rack pretty cheap but don’t expect much from it stability wise. Spend a little more and shop second hand you can pick up a full rack for around $100+.

New price: from $74.00+ (half rack price)

Second-Hand price: from $100+ (Full rack price)

Weight Bench

A good sturdy weight bench should last a long time and add numerous exercises to your workouts.

Weight benches are another essential. Most lifting programmes will require a bench. They are also great for bodyweight exercises too. You can get these pretty cheap new, I found one for only £35.00! But again, don’t expect too much from it at that price. I would say, shop second-hand and you can get something a little older but a bit better for around $50+. Have a look on Facebook Marketplace for these also.

New price: from $35.00+

Second-Hand price: from $50+

Barbells and plates

A barbell and plates will make your workouts solid, and your body!

Ah yes, what’s pumping iron without the iron, a bunch of nonsense that’s what! I found an excellent set for $200 new, bar and plates with 130 lb’s total. Not bad at all (amazon.com). Like the dumbbells, there are some great finds on Marketplace for this. Anything from free and rusty, to $1-2 per lb. Your bar will be around $50-100 in the second-hand market.

New price: $200+

Second-Hand price: Depend on what you want but from free+ or $1-2 per lb

Resistance Bands

Excellent for versatile training, resistance bands can also go anywhere with you.

Resistance bands offer an alternative form of strength training that is low-impact but still effective. They are also pretty good for stretching and assisting in difficult lifts.

New price: $24.00 (Amazon.com)

Second-Hand price: Around $10

Floor Protection

Protection for both your equipment and the floor. Don’t forget protective flooring.

You may not immediately think this is an essential basic. But, you really do need something to protect your equipment and floor. If not, you’ll pay for it later with damaged flooring. Here are the three basic options:

Horse Stall Mats

Horse stall mats are one of the most affordable options for high-impact home gym flooring. They offer excellent cushioning and durability, making them ideal for weightlifting. Dropping your barbells or dumbbells on these is usually okay.

Rubber Gym Flooring

Rubber gym flooring is another popular option for home gyms on a budget. While usually a little more expensive than a horse stall mat. They will offer around the same protection and if you find some in the sale can be an affordable option.

Foam Gym Flooring

A fantastic choice for the budget home gym. You can pick these up really cheap from places like amazon.com new. They are not suited to any high-impact activity but will provide some level of protection when placing weights on the floor. They are also pretty great for under cardio machines where the impact level is low. Price-wise, they are a better options for bulk floor covering, compared to the sturdier options above.

Yoga Mats

Similar to the foam flooring available you can make do with a yoga mat. The least durable of the four options, but it works. You’ll not get a lot of wear and tear from using heavy equipment on these, but to place equipment down is fine. Also, of course, they offer a bit of much needed comfort when performing exercises on them, your basics such as planks, push-ups, that sort of thing.

New price: from $30 – $47 per mat

Second-Hand price: from $5 – $40 per mat

Next…

Once you have the basics covered, you can start adding more equipment. It’s important to remember that quality matters when it comes to fitness equipment. Investing in good quality will ensure they last longer and perform better during workouts.

Buy Second-Hand

From plates to cycling machines. Yard sales are a great place to find a bargain.

As mentioned above buying second-hand fitness equipment is an excellent option. The two most popular marketplaces are Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. When I search for articles for my own home gym, my go-to is always Marketplace.

When shopping second-hand, don’t assume the seller has priced the item correctly. Always check against the new price and look at a few options near you to validate the price.

It’s also important to inspect the item thoroughly before buying it. Some sellers may try to pass off damaged or broken items as being in good condition. Be sure to ask about any defects that might not be visible when you go to look at the item.

Finally, if you’re buying something like a treadmill or elliptical machine, make sure you test it out before buying it. This way, you can ensure that everything is working properly and there are no hidden issues with the machine that could cause problems down the line.

The Golden Rule: Keep it simple stupid!

Creating a budget gym, shouldn’t be complicated. The most important thing is to keep it simple and consistent. Start by making a list of the essential pieces of equipment you need for your workout routine. This should include at least some of the items listed in previous chapters. Then make sure you have the right space available, get a tape measure and plan it out.

Next, you can start researching what you need. Make a list of prices and compare new to second-hand. Using Craigslist and Marketplace for second-hand and Amazon.com is usually a good place to benchmark budget new prices. Next it’s a really great idea to look at the sales, you may be able to snag a bargain and gain some quality while you’re at it.

This process can take a little while. My advice is to be patient. You can start working out at home with virtually nothing. For your first $500 you can then get a really good start with the basics. Then build as you go. Even if you’re first purchase is simply a power rack, barbell and plates. You can do a hell of a lot with that.

Finally, remember that staying true to your training objectives is key when creating a home gym. Don’t be tempted by flashy pieces of equipment that aren’t necessary. Stick with the basics and focus on maintaining consistency with your workouts. This is what gets results and doesn’t burn a huge hole in your pocket!

Frequently Asked Questions About Building a Budget Home Gym

Is a home gym worth it?

Yes! Home gyms are more likely to be used thanks to the convenience factor [1, 2]. So, for your health, it’s a no-brainer, using any kind of home gym is better than not using a commercial one. In the interest of a balanced opinion, what you might miss training at home is, working out with other people, the sort of environment you get at CrossFit for example. For some, this is a really big motivator that would be missed.

Is it cheaper to go to a gym or make a home gym?

Realistically, it’s cheaper to go to a commercial gym in the short term. With prices starting from $10 a month in some areas. However, over time it is definitely cheaper to have your own gym, and you’re also more likely to use it. Lastly, you might also want to consider your type of training, if you need highly specialized equipment it’s probably going to be cheaper to go commercial. For everything else, put some barbells and plates in your garage!

How much does it cost to set up a gym at home?

Well, the answer to that is, it depends. The average home gym setup in the US is around $2000.00, but you can start from as little as $0. Take a look at our article which goes into detail about gym setup costs and the most common variations of setups. This will give you a good idea what you price point will be. Always remember, a home gym is a project you start off with the basics and build from there.

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Andy is the founder of Garage Gym Greatness. He’s a NASM certified personal trainer and corrective exercise specialist and has worked with clients of all ages, from young professionals to those in their twilight years. Reviewing everything home fitness related is a pleasure, never a chore. His favourite cheese if comté.